The Arabic Alphabet (2)

The Arabic Alphabet (2)

This lesson is about the Arabic letters and long vowels. In previous lesson, you learned the Arabic letters and their pronunciation which varies according to the short vowels (al-ħarakaat al-qaSiirah, الْحَرَكَاتُ الْقَصِيرَة) that accompany them. For example, the letter ل can be pronounced as لَ la, لِ, li, or لُ lu. What if the Arabic letters are followed by the long vowels, to what degree their pronunciation differs.The Arabic Letters with Long Vowels 1

If these letters are followed by long vowels (al-ħarakaat aT-Tawiilah الْحَرَكَاتُ الطَّوِيلَة), their pronunciation remain relatively similar, except for the lengthening of the short vowel. For example, بَ is pronounced as ba, but if it is followed by the corresponding long vowel (that is ـا), it is pronounced baa بَا. Likewise, بِ bi becomes بِي bii, and بُ bu becomes بُو buu. And so is the case with the remaining letters.

As you can see in the tables, the long vowel always forces the appearance of the corresponding short vowel on the preceding letter, hence the alif triggers the fatħa, as in سَا, بَا, and مَا; the yaa’ triggers the kasra, as in سِي, بِي, and مِي; and the waaw triggers the Damma, as in سُو, بُو, and مُو.The Arabic Letters with Long Vowels 2

The hamza ء is written as آ when it is accompanied by fatħa and followed by alif ـا; as ـئـ when it is accompanied by kasra and followed by yaa ي; and as ؤ when it is accompanied by Damma and followed by waaw و.

You may be wondering what the difference between the hamza ء and alif ا is. The hamza can be accompanied by the short vowels, while the alif is not; that is, it (the alif) is always saakin. That is, it is accompanied by sukuun (sukuun = the absence of short vowels).

In the next lesson, you will get to know how to join these letters cursively to form Arabic words.

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